The internet is a wild place, comprised of almost anything imaginable, but most of us keep our browsing fairly tame. We stick to our creature comforts, like news, social media and online shopping. As a result, it’s easy to be lulled into a false sense of security, believing everything is truly as it seems. We know to fact check opinions, but what about when it comes to reviews?
What does Forbes have to say about it?
Most people, 90% according to Forbes, read customer reviews before buying a product online or enlisting the services of a business. As it turns out, the trust that we put into these perceived “authentic” reviews can often be a result of fabricated feedback bought by the business to increase their online rating, thereby gaining them more customers.
The Federal Trade Commission’s win against fake reviews.
In February, the Federal Trade Commission won their first case targeting fake reviews. Naftula Jacobowitz, owner of Cure Encapsulations, Inc., will have to pay $50,000 immediately, with a full fine totaling $12.8 million. The FTC found that Jacobowitz employed sites like Fiverr to post positive, five-star feedback for the weight-loss pills he sold on Amazon in order to increase his rating. The false claims posted about his product told potential customers that the pills blocked fat cell formation, were a powerful appetite suppressant, and could cause up to 20 pounds of weight loss.
Even worse, commercial preparation of the plant used in the pill has adverse side effects that were left out of the description. Garcinia cambogia, a pumpkin-like fruit that is found in the forests of Indonesia, has been shown to cause acute liver failure.
There has been very little pushback against purchased reviews in the past, but the tides are turning. The FTC filed the complaint against Cure Encapsulations, Inc. and within a week the case was concluded, and the heavy fine was imposed.
“We welcome the FTC’s work in this area,” an Amazon spokesperson said in an interview with The Verge. “Amazon invests significant resources to protect the integrity of reviews in our store because we know customers value the insights and experiences shared by fellow shoppers. Even one inauthentic review is one too many. We have clear participation guidelines for both reviewers and selling partners and we suspend, ban, and take legal action on those who violate our policies.”
How can you avoid fake reviews?
Here at Blue Label Labs we are all about authenticity and accuracy. We hold ourselves to high standards and hope that others will as well, but that’s not always the case. So how can all of us carry on as innocent internet users? Well, knowledge is power. Research everything (yes, using the internet). Also, a site called Fakespot uses artificial intelligence to detect fake reviews. Simply copy and paste a URL into Fakespot and receive an immediate letter grade signifying the overall integrity of the site’s reviews and reviewers.
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